Although my major crisis of faith concerned coming to terms with my sexual orientation and my faith in God, the crisis I want to write about concerns another matter.
Another crisis of faith came about when I was undergoing severe physical stress. I was born with a neuromuscular problem where my nerves and muscles were very weak when I was born and have deteriorated over time. I had to have major reconstruction surgery on my feet if I were to continue to walk. The doctor told me that my disease had progressed to the point that in a few short months I would be unable to walk. After having the first of 4 surgeries I became very despondent over my condition. I had a severe allergic reaction to some medicine, my foot was in a weird contraption to stop my leg from swelling. I had felt like God had forsaken me, that he had left me to die. I was feeling all alone and could not even read my Bible. Friends had brought me some tapes and a tape player so I could listen to music to cheer me up. Even the music could not cheer me up. One night, when I could not sleep, I started talking to God. I was telling him how all alone I felt, that it seemed he had forsaken me, and left me there to die.
I cried for a long time, stopping long enough to talk with God once in a while. Slowly, it started to seem like arms were wrapping themselves around me, and there was such a feeling of peace around me. Again, I started crying it felt so wonderful being warm and safe in those arms. At that moment I felt at peace with God, but in the morning when I woke up, that feeling was gone. I started asking God why had he left me. A friend of mine came in and started talking with me, and told me that even though I don’t always feel God’s arms around me he is always there, being with me through everything. Later that friend brought me the poem about looking at the footprints in the sand. It seemed God was talking with me through my friend. It took me a long time to heal physically and spiritually because even though I had friends that reminded me how much God (and they) loved me, it still seemed that God had forsaken me in my time of need. Slowly, I started to feel the call of God to start reading his word again, slowly I started to feel the love of God in my life. It took me over a year from the time of my surgery to where I felt God calling me back to him. I know that a lot of the problem was because I kept focusing on me and my pain, how awful I felt, not on God and allowing him to heal me.
It may sound trite and corny to say this but my advice to people going through terrific physical trials is to rest in God, allow him to love you, don’t focus on your pain. My other surgeries went better for me because I had learned a valuable lesson of trusting in God and my doctors, letting both of them do their work where I could heal faster. Even though it is hard during your physical testing, remember that God is the great physician and if we let him he can help us heal.
It has been harder for me to write this than I thought it would be.. I thought the pain of what I had suffered had been put away, that the healing had be completed. This has reminded me that God is constantly at work in our lives. We will never be the Christian God wants us to be until we get to heaven. I will always have physical pain and physical problems, but I know that God will help me through the hard times, that the hard times can bring me closer to God if I will only ask him to take care of me, and to help me through the times.
Dwane Garmon served as a deacon at First Baptist Church of Lithia Springs (Ga.).